Imagine making the decision to suspend the president of the United States from a social media platform. Or choosing to ban a bombshell story to shield your preferred candidate from scandal less than three weeks ahead of a presidential election.
Pretty heady stuff. But for Twitter’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde, it’s all in a day’s work.
Or I should say, it was all in a day’s work.
Following the stunning announcement that Tesla CEO Elon Musk had struck a deal to purchase the social media giant on Monday, Gadde, who reportedly played a key role in the negotiations, held a virtual meeting with her team, according to Politico.
“Three people familiar with the meeting” told the outlet that Gadde became emotional and cried during the meeting, particularly when “discussing her team’s impact and the pride she feels in them.”
One of Twitter’s most powerful executives, woman-of-the-world Vijaya Gadde, who was instrumental in the decisions to boot former President Donald Trump from the site and to suppress a story that arguably cost him the election, was reduced to tears because a man who believes in free speech had just purchased a platform that’s supposed to foster it.
This should be an occasion to celebrate. Instead, Gadde is grieving.
Considering how Musk on Tuesday publicly excoriated Twitter’s decision to squelch the Hunter Biden laptop story, she has reason to.
“Suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate,” Musk wrote.
Suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 26, 2022
Gadde spoke to her team about the changes Musk’s acquisition of Twitter will bring, according to Politico.
Specifically, as Politico noted, Musk endorses free speech and has called for “open-sourcing Twitter’s algorithm and removing all spam bots from the platform.” In other words, transparency, clearly a foreign concept to Gadde and her minions.
The Politico article said that meeting attendees had “fretted” about the effects of Musk’s takeover on Twitter’s “carefully crafted online speech rules, including its policies against hate speech, misinformation and even political advertising.”
They are acutely aware that Musk’s idea of what constitutes “hate speech” or “misinformation” stands in sharp contrast with current company policy.
Thus, the gnashing of teeth and the tears.
— Brent Scher (@BrentScher) April 26, 2022
According to the report, Gadde, 48, has been with the company since 2011. In her capacity as Twitter’s chief legal officer and general counsel, she is responsible for “handling sensitive issues like harassment and dangerous speech,” according to Politico, and is viewed inside the company as their “moral authority.”
She sets the company’s “content moderation policies,” otherwise known as censorship.
In a 2020 interview with Bloomberg News, Gadde said, “No matter what we do, we’ve been accused of bias. Leaving content up, taking content down — that’s become pretty much background noise.”
While Gadde, of course, supports “free expression,” the report says she believes the company’s policies should be written in a ways that are intended to “protect its most vulnerable users.”
In a 2015 op-ed published by The Washington Post, Gadde wrote:
“I’m often inspired by the vigorous debates on controversial issues that occur on Twitter, but I’ve also been seriously troubled by the plight of some of our users who are completely overwhelmed by those who are trying to silence healthy discourse in the name of free expression. At times, this takes the form of hateful speech in tweets directed at women or minority groups; at others, it takes the form of threats aimed to intimidate those who take a stand on issues.”
Considering that the platform is dominated by journalists and political operators, presumably adults, do they really require protection from the Twitter police?
Politico writes that “several employees left the debrief with a renewed sense of loyalty to her,” prompting one to post the following tweet.
If you look up the word "inspiring" in the dictionary you find a picture of @vijaya 💙
— Kennedy O'Brien (@kennedy798) April 25, 2022
Considering the political leanings of most Twitter employees, those sentiments should not surprise.
Musk’s bid for the company was the kiss of death for the folks at Twitter. It was the equivalent of kryptonite to Superman.
After years of abusing their power, the party is over for Gadde and her employees.
But for those who favor free speech, in the United States and around the world, it might be just beginning.